Saturday, September 25, 2010

Adenan calls for more books on Sarawak

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KUCHING: Special Advisor in the Chief Minister’s Office Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Adenan Satem yesterday urged budding authors in the state to write books on the major towns of Sarawak, including Sibu, Kapit, Kanowit and Mukah, as these towns have a rich history behind them.

“So I think some others will follow in the footsteps of James Ritchie, and I assure you that Yayasan Sarawak will also try to sponsor part of the publication costs of the books that are written, “ he said at the official launching of “Crown Jewel of the North”, a book about Limbang written by veteran journalist James Ritchie, at the Sarawak Club, Jalan Budaya here.

Adenan disclosed that when he became the chairman of Yayasan Sarawak, he had made it a policy to sponsor publications of books by local writers provided the book was related to Sarawak’s history and culture.

According to him, Yayasan Sarawak had already sponsored several books and paid for part of their publication costs.

“We also buy copies of these books to distribute to schools to create a historical consciousness among our young people,” he pointed out.

Commending the author for coming up with his latest book, Adenan said Ritchie has always been writing about the state. “He has a particular interest about Sarawak as well as a feel for the country.

Sometimes, however, I don’t like his phraseology, for instance when he referred to the Bakun Dam as the “Damned Dam” (referring to the title of a book by James Ritchie on the Bakun Dam).

“I don’t quite agree with his phraseology. But he tells you how he really feels about the country, and the people. He has feelings and that is what I am looking for, someone who has a feeling for Sarawak,” Adenan added.

On Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min and his family, who were mentioned in the book, Adenan said that the Wong family has a strong association with Limbang.

“Whenever I think of Limbang, I always think of James Wong, and I have always associated him with Limbang, Adenan said, adding that he still remember reading about Wong being one of the first members of the Dewan Undangan Negeri in 1955.

On a lighter note, Adenan described how, in all the years when Wong was a member of the Council Negeri, if someone wanted to wake him up when he was half asleep, all they had to do was to mention the name Limbang, and Wong will instantly wake up. “That shows his feeling and love for dear old Limbang,” Adenan said.

On the latest book, Adenan gave an assurance that Yayasan Sarawak will buy several copies and distribute it to schools so that people will have an “appreciation of what we are, what we were and perhaps what we will be in the future.” According to Ritchie, he had tried to write the book as a history book and he had also included in the book details such as population and demographic distribution, topography as well as politics.

“That is why we put everybody in. We made sure that we didn’t leave out anyone, from Datuk Amar Awang Tengah to the late Datuk Dr Judson. We cover the whole lot. So it is quite a comprehensive book,” Ritchie said.

He attributed the book to Wong, who had provided him with a job at SNAP Sarawak Digest for several years.

“So this book is basically my gift to him,” Ritchie said. “This is my ‘thank you’ gift to you, for taking care of me and letting me stay at your house in Limbang,” he added.

Ritchie also remarked that Wong, who is now 88 years old and who was one of the founding fathers of Sarawak, has yet to be conferred with the Tan Sri award.

In a brief speech, Wong disclosed that it is the content of a book that is important. He also revealed that he is coming up with his own book which will be launched in about two months time.

“Crown Jewel of the North” is being sold at RM60 per copy but during the launching yesterday, the book was sold at a promotional price of RM30 per copy.

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